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Poor Filipinos Are Happy

When is a Filipino considered poor? What is the measure of personal wealth? Is wealth just in mind, in the bank, in landholdings, or elsewhere? Days, ago, they think tank Ibon Foundation said 88 percent of Filipinos are poor. We have not read about the administration's response to that, if any, but we expect it to dispute that figure.

Government technocrats say that a family of six (two parents and four children) that earns only P600 a day is poor, or below what they call the poverty threshold. That means roughly, a household income of a month P18,000.00 a month.

Rosario Bella Guzman, Ibon executive director, said the minimum wage in the National Capital Region has gone lower that the estimated decent income for a family of six.

The United Nations Report on the Human Development Index for 2003 has shown that the Philippines slid from 77th to 85th place among countries where people live under extreme poverty. The HDI measures quality of income, health, education and political participation.

Qualitative Test:

The characterization of the country as teeming with people who languish below the poverty threshold has elicited various responses at various times.

On time, there were suggestions to lower the poverty threshold do there would be fewer people below it. That was a dubious way of statistically reducing the number of Filipinos considered poor.

When she was Human Settlements Secretary, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos observed that the Gross national Product , which is the sum of all goods and services produced during a period, is not a fair measurement of the wealth (or poverty) of a people.

Mrs. Marcos said that wealth is not to be measured solely in quantitative units (in peso values, for instance). She brought, in the idea of also measuring wealth in quantitative manner (in terms of, for instance, people being satisfied or happy, and saying so).

Pinoys A Lot Happy:

How relevant is, that elusive element called happiness in appreciating a people's wealth or poverty?

An Asiawide (minus Japan) consumer survey has found that Filipinos and Thais are the happiest in the region while people of Hongkong worry about their jobs, the economy and their waistlines. The survey was conducted before the outbreak of SARS in China and elsewhere.

The survey report, made by the advertising group TBWA Hongkong, was based on focus groups and five major surveys over three years in seven Asian locations. There were more that 15,000 respondents with a bias towards those aged 25 to 35 who were thought to lead the culture in Asia.

Not Too Vain:

The report , titled "marketing Premium Brands in Asia", said Hong Kong people scored minus 27 on the researchers' happiness index, compared to minus six in Taiwan, minus two on the mainland, plus six in Singapore, 10 in Malaysia , 11 in Thailand and 12 in the Philippines.

The index compared the number of people who classified themselves as "very happy or "happy" against those who said they were "unhappy" or "very unhappy". Those who said they were "okay" were excluded.

Filipinos were not only the happiest among those surveyed, but were also the least body-conscious. Only 18 percent regarded themselves as overweight compared with 47 percent of Hongkongers saying they were "too fat" or "a bit fat".

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